Periodic Reporting for period 2 - ECOSHEET-PRO (An Eco-Innovative Alternative to Plywood)
Reporting period: 2018-05-01 to 2019-12-31
The first issue addressed is that of mixed plastic waste. According to Plastics Europe, in 2018 in sole EU28+CH/NO, 29.1 million tons of post-consumer waste plastics were collected, of which 24,9% were landfilled and 42,6% incinerated, for a total of 19.6 million tons (Source: https://www.plasticseurope.org/en/resources/market-data - Plastics – The fact 2019, pag. 29), as they could not be easily separated and consequently recycled.
The second issue is the growth in the use of plywood, typically manufactured from slow-growing, tropical hardwoods. This material is a key, high volume commodity in construction industry formworks and an area the size of Madrid is deforested each year to meet Europe’s demand. ECOSHEET-PRO transforms mixed plastic that would otherwise be wasted into a competitive, reusable, plywood replacement, cutting down global demand for plywood and contributing to a substantial reduction in deforestation and biodiversity loss, avoiding landfilling or incinerating mixed plastics.
Previous attempts to create such boards have failed to deliver the strength or cost effectiveness required by industry. ETE and ICMA have overcome these barriers through an innovative manufacturing process which has been refined during this project. ECOSHEET-PRO has the potential to re-define the €1.8 billion European plywood industry and help Europe meet its demanding plastic recycling targets, contributing to the circular economy.
During the second reported period, in some (technical) areas partners have struggled more than expected – which is the nature of innovation. In particular, partners have been working hard to complete the production of a board that meets industry standard board dimensions: 2440mm x 1220mm x 18mm flat across whole board and density of 740 kg/m3. In fact, whilst they have achieved the density criteria and the strength criteria, the full-sized boards at 18mm could not be produced in time for full demonstration. However, they have been able to display smaller samples together with technical specifications to potential end-users and have achieved their understanding of the product potential, receiving positive reactions and enthusiasm to adopt the product when ready. Project partners have finally prioritized the attendance to specialized trade fairs in order to communicate the achieved results to a specific audience of industrial stakeholders and potential customers.
ICMA San Giorgio, foresees a large market uptake for the co-rotating screw technology to be used in the processing of plastic waste streams characterized by an undefined composition.
The progress beyond the state of the art is represented by the possibility to use plastic urban solid waste without demanding a separation process. Further, the panels obtained have the same proprieties of plywood thus overcoming the current non-wood alternatives for formworks use.
This technology is very relevant to foster the recycling of plastic urban waste even when more expensive polymers separation technologies are not available on site.
Overall, partners feel that the project has been a great success – although not without its issues and some gaps against what was originally imagined at the beginning. The long-term legacy outcome of the project is the expectation to see the technology be fully industrialised during 2020 with an initial factory sponsored by some large multi-national corporations, and then at least one more, maybe two, already committed following that. The future for this technology is looking very bright.